Air Traffic Controllers

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Air Traffic Controllers

Air Traffic Controllers - Working Conditions

In a typical work setting, air traffic controllers:

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Are substantially responsible for the health and safety of passengers and crew members.
  • Have a high level of social interaction. They frequently talk to pilots and other controllers.
  • Communicate by telephone and in face-to-face discussions daily. They occasionally write letters and memos.
  • Almost always work as part of a team.
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  • Are responsible for the work outcomes and results of others.
  • Are placed in conflict situations on a daily basis in which they must deal with rude or angry people. Air traffic control can be stressful.

Physical Work Conditions

  • Always work indoors.
  • May be exposed to loud sounds and distracting noise levels.
  • Work physically close to others, usually within a few feet. Air traffic controllers usually work in a small area.

Work Performance

  • Make decisions quickly and without consulting a supervisor first.
  • Make decisions that greatly impact everyone involved in flying, including pilots, passengers, ground crew, and other traffic controllers.
  • Must complete all details of the job while being exact and accurate in instructing pilots. Errors can result in serious accidents or unnecessary disruptions to service.
  • Must repeat the same physical actions while remaining alert to pilot activities.
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  • Work in a stressful atmosphere in which deadlines must be constantly met.
  • Determine their daily tasks and goals independently. Work is dictated by flight schedules


  • Usually work a 40-hour week. Work schedules are usually established and set.
  • May rotate night and weekend shifts with other controllers.
Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.